Is it Hope? Hype? Or just the Same Old Struggle?

Here on the US side of all things teleHealthy, mHealthy, dHealthy or just plain Health Techy, a Silicon Valley company called Jawbone, best known for its Bluetooth phone accessories and a single foray into tracking with UP, has acquired, at a price no one seems to agree on, the breezily and Big Data-ly named Massive Health. Massive’s one, heavily huzzahed contribution to the Healthy World was an app called Eatery, which would somehow decipher from snaps of your eats your habits and where you could change ’em. Jawbone, Massive–all Silicon Valley rock-star led, with veritable brass bands of hype marching behind (see GigaOM’s report). There’s a ton of press and interpretation of this acquisition being hotly debated in various forums, notably:

  • Neil Versel’s take in Mobihealthnews with his proposition that direct to consumer (DTC) beyond fitness and the ‘worried well’ is not where the money is, and that most of these heavily hyped companies would not know healthcare from their cocktail quiche. Economics and human behavior rules; he pits Massive vs. TV reward program Viggle.
  • David Doherty at the 3G Doctor Blog analyzes Neil V. point-by-point and counterpoint (in defense of Neil, to my knowledge he does not edit Mobihealthnews, and his views are often at variance with many companies covered more glowingly by other contributors)
  • David Shaywitz, MD over in Forbes puts the SV Hype Machine on the dissection table, noting the well known tendency of VCs to celebrate their exits (no matter how much cash went circling down the drain) and presents a little hope for DTC at the end.

Editor Donna (@deetelecare) is on the side of the wary and the plain ol’ weary: of the endless hype; of ‘better mousetraps’ beating paths to someone’s door; of VCs with their ‘plays on health’ (hat tip to Neil); of those who willfully ignore that the customer has ‘Who Cares’ stamped on their forehead and jolly well insists on doing things for their reasons, not yours; of developers not bringing skeptics (marketers, clinicians, your neighbor, Aunt Sadie) in at the start and frequently therein to kick holes in the proposition. It’s detrimental to real implementation whether B2B or B2 the end user. Thus it remains the decidedly unglamorous Same Old Struggle to make it work, get the direction right, get it funded, help a few people along the way and especially, not believe your own press releases. Also see initial (and revised) reporting in TechCrunch.

Categories: Latest News.


  1. Donna Cusano--Editor

    [quote]Remembering many hype cycles, I quote a Gartnerism: beyond the hype, some sensible and helpful tech solutions do generally emerge. We must wonder, though, with those deployment statistics about the long-suffering remote patient monitoring-aka-telehealth industry, now mobilized by mHealth mania, what is the business model that will work? [/quote]

    Laurie, thanks for this one. Trying to get closer to #s of people, CDC’s 2009 # of discharges is 36.1 million. Even taking one-third on a broad assumption that there’s duplication and not all require continuing monitoring, that is a market of 12 million individuals. That leaves us with a 11,780,000 gap vs. your cited 220,000 US telehealth users.

    Agreed that the health tech hype exceeds progress by a big N, and even the glowiest forecasts globally are still slow growth. InMedica’s estimation of [u]global[/u] RPM patients was 308K 2012 to 400K 2013–and 1.8 million in 2017. [url][/url]

    But the hype and conference merry-go-round is [b]fun[/b] for those on it, not so fun for those back at base trying to get the job done, watching the cash burn and worrying if the company will be around in 3 months. Mark Suster blogging over at [u]Business Insider[/u] is talking tech, but his reprimand as an entrepreneur-turned-VC is equally applicable here:
    [url][/url] (Hat tip to Editor Steve)